Home Special Reports Inside Laos ‘the battery’ of South East Asia

Inside Laos ‘the battery’ of South East Asia

Laos, one of the world's few remaining communist states, is one of East Asia's poorest countries. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 it has struggled to find its position within a changing political and economic landscape.

Communist forces overthrew the monarchy in 1975, heralding years of isolation. Laos began opening up to the world in the 1990s and over the last few years ties with China have strengthened leading to a dam building frenzy.  The countries tourism industry is booming.

Elise Potaka travelled across the country to see what impact this economic development is having on the lives of Laos’s locals.

Laos Dams Building Frenzy

E-mail Print PDF

Download - Listen

With around 70 hydropower dams under construction or consideration, Laos is being labeled the “battery of South East Asia”.

Power from the dams will be exported to countries like Thailand and Vietnam.

In return, Laos will receive foreign exchange and technical expertise.

The government says this will used to fund education and health.

But critics argue that the government has a poor track record when it comes to mitigating the effects of dams.

They say that dams currently in operation have had huge environmental and social impacts, and that the new dams are unlikely to be any better.

In Laos, Elise Potaka has more.


Last Updated ( Monday, 11 January 2010 10:11 )

Cool Cloth: Maintaining Laos’ Weaving Traditions

E-mail Print PDF


Laos might be relatively small with a population of around 7 million, but over 100 different ethnic groups make up the mix.

Differences can be found in language, and also in material culture like weaving and embroidery. In this way the different groups all contribute to the complexity of Laos’ cultural heritage.

Elise Potaka takes a look at two different projects in Luang Prabang.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 May 2009 10:34 )

A New World Brings New Challenges for Laos Youth

E-mail Print PDF

Download - Listen

The growth in tourism and foreign investment in Laos is opening up numerous opportunities for young people.

But, with just over a third of Laotians completing secondary education, a department already severely under-resourced, some are finding it hard to grasp the chances on offer.

Poor English and a lack of negotiating and problem solving skills are just some of the barriers to success.

In Luang Prabang, Elise Potaka visits a couple of projects helping young Laotians find their way.

Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 21:52 )

Eco-tourism in Laos

E-mail Print PDF


Laos has beautiful clean rivers and lush forest, and small villages with unique customs and culture.

In the 1990’s annual visitor numbers were in the tens of thousands, but now the country welcomes around one million people each year. Tourism is one of the largest generators of foreign exchange.

In particular, the eco-tourism sector has flourished, with nature and culture-based tourism accounting for nearly half of all visits.

To find out more, Elise Potaka visited the Laos’s first eco-tourism project in Luang Nam Tha province.

Last Updated ( Friday, 29 May 2009 11:33 )

China and Laos’ Economic Partnership

E-mail Print PDF


Over the last few years, ties between Laos and China have strengthened.

Bilateral trade is now 241 million US dollars each year, almost twice what it was in 2005.

It is a relationship based on mutual interests. China needs natural resources and wants to solidify its influence in the region. Laos needs infrastructure, technology and cheap consumer goods.

But, as Elise Potaka reports, there are concerns that Laos’ locals could be losing out.

Last Updated ( Friday, 29 May 2009 14:47 )
  • «
  •  Start 
  •  Prev 
  •  1 
  •  2 
  •  Next 
  •  End 
  • »
Page 1 of 2